by Qineng Tan, L.Ac., Ph.D.
TCM has a history of treating illness going back thousands of years. One particularly famous doctor of the Ming dynasty (6th Century A.D.), named Sun Simiao, wrote a 30-volume encyclopedia called “Prescriptions for Emergencies Worth a Thousand Gold.” This work not only described herbal formulas (although it did detail over 4000 of them), but treatments for all types of conditions, including entire volumes on the care of women and children.
Sun Simiao was practicing during a time of widespread infectious disease in China, and he developed herbal treatments for all types of illnesses, including what he would have called “blood fever.” His pioneering work is the basis for treatments we still use today for treating viruses.
You have probably heard the stories about how, in the olden days, acupuncturists and herbalists did not charge their patients when they were sick–because it was their job to keep them healthy in the first place.
This is because we have known for a very long time that the best offense is a good defense. The best way to stay healthy and keep your loved ones healthy, whether it’s just another wintertime “cold and flu” season, or a global pandemic, is to be well-informed about prevention, how contagion spreads, and first steps to take when someone around you falls ill.
First, pay close attention to the changing of the seasons and how your body is affected. Dress appropriately for the cooler temperatures and brisk winds of the fall season. Don’t try to fight the early dying of the light each day. Instead, be gentle with yourself, and find seasonal routines that involve turning in early and rising with the sun. As always, drink tea for good health!
Regular acupuncture treatments help keep your entire body, especially the immune system, functioning at peak efficiency, so that when you come into contact with pathogens, your body is ready to fight them off quickly.
Here are some other things you can do to keep your immune system at the ready:
1. Get adequate rest.
2. Maintain a healthy diet, with as little processed/GMO food as possible.
3. Drink lots of clean water with good mineral content.
4. Avoid chemical medications that suppress your body’s natural functioning to overcome illness in the guise of “helping symptoms.”
5. Get plenty of exercise, fresh air, and sunlight–Vitamin D is very important.
To help stop contagious illness from spreading, you should, of course, wash your hands thoroughly and often. Pay attention to your sensations and intuition. If you start to feel run-down, weak, head-achey, or feverish, don’t dismiss it and try to push through your day. Slow down, and take it easy. Make an extra effort to avoid eating any junk food or consuming alcohol. Don’t drink caffeine, either, even if you think you need to keep your energy up. Caffeine produces false feelings of energy that can cause you to overexert yourself, when you should try to rest.
At this point in time, Western Medicine has no methods for treating viral infections. Most medicinal preparations are aimed at making the patient more comfortable, but none of them act as a cure, or even help the body’s own resistance. TCM herbal formulae, on the other hand, not only help reduce suffering from uncomfortable symptoms; they offer proven efficacy in helping to stave off and slow down the spread of pathogens in the body. They can also help for speedier and more thorough recovery from illness.